You have to admit, that's a pretty nice bear.
Chris Cheng wins Top Shot!! The IT guy who goes to a penguin-filled happy place (and my personal favorite competitor from the start) is now $100,000 richer and a professional marksman. And oh, what a win it was. With four men left, the competitors paired off to shoot at colored targets, trying to turn as many from the opponent's color to their own in the allotted time. Chris easily knocked Augie out by turning every single one of the targets. Whoa. In the next round, the top three played Top Shot's version of HORSE, taking turns choosing targets, distances, and weapons until one person was eliminated. At first the shots were ridiculously difficult, leaving everyone with misses. Once they stopped trying so hard to impress one another, Chris took an easy lead, scoring enough points to take a seat while the other two duked it out.
In the end it was Chris against Greg, a fitting end after the two men had an embarrassing shoot out in the very first episode where both men kept missing their targets. As usual, the finale challenge was a series of many different challenges from throughout the competition. The finalists were at an absolute neck and neck, trading off on barely sneaking ahead of the other by mere seconds. When it came to the last station, Chris was faced with a weapon he'd never touched before (a grenade launcher, used in an elimination challenge that Chris did not compete in), and one that Greg had competed with in national competitions. I can tell you I was literally holding my breath as Chris took that last shot, hitting his target just moments before Greg would have. Congratulations, Chris! And congratulations to us viewers, who got the most exciting finale I've seen in three seasons (I never did catch the first season, but I just can't imagine it ended in such a spectacular way). Seriously you guys, even if you hate guns and think you have no interest, check this show out. It's gone from a completely random pasttime to one of my absolute favorite competition shows out there.
Okay, that gun is kind of hilariously small, but Chris is a badass.
One last note about Top Shot: In "Behind the Bullet" (...I know), we found out just how deep the friendship (or is it more?!) between Chee and Gaby went. Chee interviewed that had he known that he was going to send Gaby home, he would have thrown the shot. He was that dedicated to seeing her win! Even if he's all talk, that's a pretty bold statement to put out there. I was disappointed that the "where are they now" updates didn't mention that those two are dating. C'mon, Chee!
In other finale news, Phi Phi did not win RuPaul's Drag Race. The finale/reunion special gave us live audience realness, and it was admittedly satisfying to watch Phi Phi squirm under the judgment and justice doled out by her fellow competitors. Jiggly was in tears about the behavior she saw Phi Phi engage in once Jiggly watched the show at home, and ever-blunt Willam straight-up called Phi Phi out on taking her aggressions out in public: apparently Phi Phi has been signing autographs with "F-- William" and some of the other girls. Ooo, girl! That ain't right. I was happy to see Phi Phi's mom being supportive in the audience, but I'm also glad that she didn't win. Thanks for another catty, drama-filled, entertaining season, ladies!
Phi Phi tearing up ... because she's getting some of her own medicine?
On American Idol, the contestants each sang a pair of songs once again: Jessica took on "Proud Mary," tossing her hair and singing in front of a huge beaded curtain (is it me or is Idol's staging getting more and more elaborate? Please don't be like The Voice in this respect, guys). Jennifer said it was "a little bit Tina, a little bit Beyonce" and said that she was glad to see Jessica do the rock we were missing last week (thought maybe the floating heads just distracted us). Randy called the performance "barely okay," saying that Jess took on "the biggest dragon of the night" (what is with Randy and dragons?) but the song didn't quite sit with him. Backstage, Jessica acknowledged that Tina Turner is a "beast" and mentioned that she attempted to dance, which she doesn't normally do.
Between the dress and the stage, I'm really getting a string vibe.
Jessica's second song was "You Are So Beautiful," and again there was some bizarre staging with her sitting on the floor surrounded by candles. Jennifer praised Jess's slow pace, saying that the song is easy to rush, but Jessica took her time with it. Randy was impressed by the way Jessica was able to sustain notes, saying that she's a total pro. I also thought it was a pretty great performance whenever I was just listening and not looking at the screen.
This is an especially freaky shot since it looks like she has no legs.
Jess was safe on results night, but Jimmy had some critical words for the Idol stylists, who he thinks had Jessica wear a dress too mature and racy for her on the first song -- he thinks the clothing choices turned the performance into burlesque. Apparently it was good enough for voters, but I hope Soyon An isn't feeling too bad right now.
It was Drake week on America's Best Dance Crew, and the crews each had to dance to a Drake song and incorporate a line of lyrics into their performances. Mos Wanted Crew was voted into safety and took on "The Motto," choosing to highlight the line "Pass it like a relay" with some fun echo-y relay race moves. JC complimented their traveling, saying that they use the stage "really really well." Lil' Mama said that Mos Wanted definitely represents street crews and their performance was "clean, hot, and undeniable." But D-Trix was less than impressed, telling Mos Wanted that he knows they can take their dancing to the next level, and they need to push themselves to really show off what they can do. They're riding pretty high for now with voters, but we'll see whether they take D-Trix's words to heart.
Hats and pointing, hats and pointing.
8 Flavahz was also safe this week, and they got "Find Your Love" as their song. Unfortunately, crew member Angel got word from her sister that their mother's cancer had taken an unexpected turn for the worse, but she wanted her daughter to stay in the competition she'd worked so hard for. The routine featured the brave young girl and brought tears to Lil' Mama's eyes. She commended the group's passion and support for one another. D-Trix similarly complimented the girls' pure dance that went beyond foundation or technique. JC somewhat uncomfortably pointed out that the routine was more about moments than overall choreography, but he did tell 8 Flavahz that they did something special. I'm sorry to report that Angel's mother did indeed pass away shortly after that episode was recorded. Send good vibes her family's way, everyone.
These girls can fly for real.
Surprisingly, Fanny Pak was voted into the bottom two this week. Their song was "Make Me Proud," and the lyric they chose was "Runnin' on a treadmill only eatin' salad." Of course these guys find an incredibly fun way to illustrate this: they set up a little restaurant date with crew members acting as chefs and waiters surrounding the central couple. They created a human treadmill, then ended with a bowl of salad getting dumped on the guy's head by his date. Aww. D-Trix still loves them, but he hopes they'll rely less on props. Lil' Mama said that Fanny Pak knows how to be discreet when needed: they sometimes remind her of a flashmob with the scenes they create.
Probably not a restaurant you want to go to if you're hungry.
Joining Fanny Pak in the bottom two was Stepboys, who danced to "Best I Ever Had" and highlighted the line "Every single show she out there reppin' like a mascot." Jerel busted out a (mustached!) bear mascot and, impressively, managed some pretty complex moves in the heavy getup. JC mentioned the "insane" helicopter toss when they threw Jerel in the air and twirled him around, and Lil' Mama pointed out that he often takes one for the team, since Jerel was the one to play Britney previously. She and JC agreed that the choreography was on the simple side, leading D-Trix to interrupt, "I just wanna see you two do what they did tonight." Ohhh, fightin' words! In the end, those goofy Stepboys were sent home (some of them in tears!), and we're down to our final six crews. This might be the best top six yet!
Mascot Jerel can't BEAR to show you his face (sorry).
Quick note on Survivor: it was the "loved ones" week, where the contestants see videos of/get visits from a friend or family member from back home. We met Christina's father, who we find out had a kidney transplant and does not have a great future health forecast. Their reunion was sweet and tear-filled, and it was nice to see how proud Christina's dad is of her.
The emotion of this moment is somewhat undercut by the Sprint logo.
This isn't a new piece of news, but I finally caught the movie Hollywood Chinese on PBS's American Masters series. The 90-minute film follows the history of portrayals of Chinese people in American feature films, and is a must-see if you're at all interested in perceptions of Asian Americans in popular media. Check your local PBS listings if you're a delinquent like me and have yet to watch!
The previous issue of Hyphen is available in its entirety for your perusing pleasure. Almost as good as having it right in your hands!